My Liberation Notes comes to a satisfying conclusion rich in metaphor and symbolism, rounding out one of the year’s best k-dramas.
This recap of My Liberation Notes season 1, episode 16 contains spoilers.
It doesn’t really come as much of a surprise at this point, but of course one of the low-key best k-dramas of the year rounds out its run with an excellent finale, one that manages to continue the thematic and character development in a well-rounded conclusion that provides closure, poignancy, and a logical end.
My Liberation Notes season 1, episode 16 recap
It’s all about learning who we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re going. It’s about learning to live with our demons, to keep them close without letting them control us. It’s about finding new and different forms of personal satisfaction, a sense of clarity and purpose. All of this is very meaningful coming on the back of sixteen episodes that have continually and cleverly explored these ideas.
Obviously, the idea of liberation is expressed through the Liberation Club, fittingly; a liberation through experience, openness, and sharing, whether or not, as Tae-hun fears, some personal experiences are simply too personal to share.
Gu’s liberation comes from him embracing mercy and empathy; it’s a liberation from a lifestyle that has hemmed him in and forced him to live with the worst of himself. But the drink is still a demon he must contend with. If only he could apply the same discipline he imparted on Chang-hee to himself. The latter is able to pay off his loans by changing his lifestyle and spending habits, and in that financial responsibility he has also found personal satisfaction – it isn’t quite winning the lottery, but it’s being rich enough.
Chang-hee’s personal responsibility also comes to the fore in his decision to stay with Hyeok-su, offering peace and comfort in a time of need at the expense of himself and his own ambitions.
Kindness and putting others before oneself has been a consistent theme in My Liberation Notes, and it’s nice to see it expressed in various ways here, even through Mi-jeong and Chun-ho. A small bit of civility here results in a much more beneficial outcome for everyone, proving that hostility is rarely – if ever – the answer.
Not all conclusions are necessarily as clear cut, such as with Tae-hun and Gi-jeong, but even that lack of resolution feels meaningful. Sometimes, after all, there isn’t an easy answer or an obvious outcome; instead, we must work to discover our fate, to adapt to the twists and turns it takes, to find where we belong and what we’re supposed to be doing. Where will fate take us? Who and what will we be? These are, of course, the most essential questions, and while My Liberation Notes doesn’t answer them for us, it at least shows us that the tools are there to be found and put to task. It might be a few seconds of joy, or a 500 won coin, or leaving the bottle we have found ourselves at the bottom of at the side of the road. We can better, all of us. And, in our own time, we will be.